Former Alaska state legislator dies in small plane crash

July 13th, 2012 - 12:47 am ICT by BNO News  

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA (BNO NEWS) — Businesswoman and former Alaska state legislator Cheryll Heinze was killed on late Tuesday evening when a float plane crashed in a lake near an airport in Homer, state troopers said on Wednesday. Four other people survived the crash.

The accident occurred at around 10:40 p.m. local time on Tuesday when the single-engine Cessna 206 went down at Beluga Lake near a small airport in Homer, a city about 122 miles (197 kilometers) southwest of Anchorage. The aircraft was carrying five members of Matanuska Electric Association (MEA)’s management team.

“A Trooper responded to the scene. Homer Police Department and Homer Fire Department were contacted and a rescue boat was launched to rescue the individuals on board,” a spokesperson for the Alaska State Troopers said on Wednesday. The pilot, identified as 71-year-old MEA CEO Evan “Joe” Griffith, was attempting to land at the lake.

It was not immediately known what caused the accident.

The five people on board the aircraft were rescued from the aircraft but Heinze, who was critically injured after being trapped inside the submerged aircraft, succumbed to her injuries while being transported to a local hospital. The four other people were not believed to be seriously injured.

Heinze, 65, was employed at MEA as the director of Human Resources and Public Affairs. She previously served one term in the Alaska State Legislature representing Anchorage from 2003 to 2004. She also served as a deputy commissioner for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources and belonged to many organizations including the Alaska Chamber of Commerce, Anchorage Symphony League and Breast Cancer Focus, Inc.

Alaska Governor Sean Parnell said he and his wife were saddened to learn of Heinze’s passing. “She was a dedicated legislator who cared deeply for Alaska. Our thoughts and prayers are with her husband, Harold, her family, colleagues and friends,” he said in a statement released from his office.

Parnell also ordered state flags to fly at half-staff on Friday in honor and memory of Heinze.

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